Dr. Laurel Davis, Asheville holistic veterinarian, offers “Stories from a Holistic Veterinarian”, the blog of a holistic vet and “animal interpreter.” With a clinic in downtown Asheville, NC. Dr. Laurel also offers animal health, lifestyle and vaccination advice for cats, dogs and their human friends across the country.
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7 Ways to Show Your Senior Cat or Dog Some Extra Love
It can be difficult for us humans to watch our furry love muffins get older.
However, as they shift into their senior years, I find that the majority of my patients, cats and dogs alike, are remarkably at peace with the process. Their reactions vary from learning from their mistakes (like the older dog who absolutely must chase the squirrel up the tree and regrets it later when his knees and back are sore) to an increased dependency and desire for companionship, like the sweet, aging pup who follows you around and urges you to take long, slow walks with her on beautiful days.
My siamese cat mix, Bee, who is 14.5 human-years old, reports that she feels fulfilled with her life as a senior cat. Although she is much more tired (she used the word “exhausted”), she lives her life purely for enjoyment. As she started to enter her senior years, I noticed that she began to seek security and reassurance that her world was protected. This topic comes up regularly for other feline patients. Another thing she mentioned, which was seconded by a few of my neighbors’ senior kitties, is the realization that her days will run out at some point. This confession shocked me at first, but I have come to admire how she faces this truth fearlessly.
To put it simply,
age-related physical and emotional changes are natural, and dogs and cats seem to understand this more readily than humans. Everyone handles aging in his or her own way, and to be sure, there are physical things we can do for our animals to soothe their discomfort and increase their quality of life. However, I’ve noticed that animals spend far less time complaining about the state of their bodies than we humans do. They are more concerned with the joy to be found in the present moment, like how goooood that sunbeam feels on their back.
So, the question is: how can we help our aging cats and dogs find comfort and continued joy in their lives?
- Continue to play with them. It’s good for both of you to let down your hair and get wild every once in a while.
- Allow enough time to make that heart connection. Get down at their level and just plain love them up.
- Know that everything takes a bit more effort for them: that walk around the block, deciding how to get in or out of the door, navigating the front steps or their favorite cat tree. Be patient.
- Spend quality time with them. They ask you to slow down, stroll with them, sit with them. No phone, no computer, no TV. (This is by far the biggest request I get from senior dogs. Fancy that!).
- Let them know how much you care with extra pats and encouragement.
- Help with car load-ups and unloads, and take the extra time to exit and enter your house together through the door that has fewer steps.
- Take them into your holistic veterinarian for a senior check-in to have a full assessment and to optimize their nutrition.
Dr. Laurel Davis is Asheville holistic veterinarian, offering phone and Skype consultations for animal lovers everywhere. Call 828-254-2221 or order an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype session or bring your dog or cat to her downtown Asheville, NC clinic. Read more patient stories.
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